Blog Archives

Sansa to IPOD conversion

I have been using an 8GB Sandisk Sansa for my mobile media needs…that is up until last night.  I traded a new graphics tablet I bought at a CompUSA closeout for a 4GB IPOD nano with video.  At first I was going to give it to Liz, but after tinkering with it for a while I decided to keep the IPOD and give her the Sansa.  There are several reasons for this..

1. She won’t use the IPOD to its fullest extent (I will)
2. The Sansa has more storage space so she can put more photos on it and use it for client demos for her photography clients
3. I already have accessories she would need such as the carry case with clip so that she can take it with her more easily.
4. I would use the video playback more than she would.

So it worked out great for us both, she got a device she can use to store her favorite music, use in her photography business and its easily portable and easy to use.  Plus the Sansa has a built in FM radio so she can listen out and about. 

So now I have to convert all my WMA files to mp3, since some of them were DRM protected, I have to obtain the non-DRM protected versions so that I can import them into my itunes library.  I use both Rhapsody and Itunes now, I think Rhapsody has a nicer interface, but itunes is definately easier to get podcasts and audiobooks, etc. 

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Mobile Music

I have never been willing to spend a large sum of money to purchase a mobile MP3 player such as the IPOD or similar.  But this past week I found a great deal on TigerDirect for a Sandisk Sansa 8GB player.  My gracious wife made no objections to me getting it, so I happily placed the order.  It arrived on my doorstep on Saturday afternoon in the mail, and I began goign through the options and setup.  I can play video, music, photo slideshows, FM radio and even use it as a voice recorder.  It works with Rhapsody which has recently become my favorite online music source.  I like ITunes too, but I find I use it more for podcast subscriptions than music, only because I don’t have an IPOD so its not as useful for me.  I spent a few hours this weekend searching for and adding new music to my new player.  I know I am years behind and people have been doing this for quite a while, but having a mobile music player and being able to sync playlists and media and take them with me anywhere, is really cool! 

Movie update

Liz and I watched a few movies we’d never seen before this weekend. Included are:

Poseidon (2006) – was an ok movie, but Liz and I can’t take much of the mass death and disaster type stories…

Catch and release – didn’t really care for this movie, thought it would be good from the description, but it didn’t hold our interest for long. Actually watched this the previous weekend (I think).

Evan Almighty – Thought this was funny, not a terrific movie, but interesting and humorous with a fairly good sory.

I’ve been trying to find a newer romantic comedy that is something good, not some of the sleezy stuff thats been coming out. But after watching that Poseidon movie with all the death and danger, I think we are ready for a musical! 🙂

Strawberry Festival is a big deal

I didn’t realize it last year either, but the strawberry festival in Plant City is a big thing. Check out the website for more information. There are tons of big music artists and events. This runs until next Sunday, so I’m hoping we can go before then.

Sarah's performance

Last night, Sarah and Abby were in little musical number to help kick off a conference. I ended up staying at work a little longer than I wanted, and barely made it to catch the performance. It was only 5 minutes long, but I hate to miss their special events. I ran home, grabed a snack and headed back out the door to see them. Sarah and Abby got to hand out flags and little treats to the audience which was really cute.

Past Jobs?

1. Microsoft Engineer (MCP, MCSA, MCSE, Security +, etc) -best job I’ve ever had.
2. Network Administrator (almost 3 yrs) – at two jobs
3. Computer Specialist (2+yr)
4. Computer Technician (1yr)
5. Pick Programmer (6 months)
6. Receiver – fork lift driving, warehouseing etc. (2+yrs)
7. Frozen vegitable packer – (1 day) 🙂
8. Music DJ at a skating rink – (1+yr) – was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had
9. Cashier at Hardee’s (4-6months) – was the worst job I’ve ever had
10. Work for family in various capacities

Ok so this isn’t as long as list as I thought it would be. Just wait till you see the list of vehicles I’ve had over the years. That post is coming soon!]]>

Bad Neighborhood??

It didn’t take us long to realize that even though our house was the nicest one (as far as condition and age) that we had ever had, but our neighborhood left much to be desired. We discovered lewd music being played very loud at all hours of the day and night, we found beak-in attempts on my truck parked in my driveway just off the street!!! Drug dealers and gang bangers and barred stores all over. Suddenly things didn’t seem so nice as they had after just coming from a much worse place.

Its been a year this March (almost there). We still don’t like the neighborhood, and desperately want to move. We are embarrassed to have people over for fear that they might be afraid of the area. We have one year left to live in this house before we are going to try to sell it and move to a nicer area. I’m sincerely hoping that home values will rise enough by the time I’m ready to sell that we could take the equity in the home sale and use it to pay off all our debt. This is not so far fetched and we’ve done it once before. We bought the house for $131,000 and they are already selling now for upwards of $160 in some areas. Our neighborhood definately has something to do with the value, but hopefully by next March I’ll be able to get about $169K from the sale of our home. If that happens, we will be able to pay off all our bills, and have a few K left over to put down on a new home and pay all closing costs in cash. This would also allow me to finally trade my truck in for a car with a working heater! I know that sounds funny coming from someone who lives in FL, but lately in the mornings it can get pretty chilly! I’ve had ice on my windshield for the past two mornings now. And the heater in my truck is broken.

Should this plan work out, and we can pay off all our debt, and do the things I just mentioned; then we are aced with a new challenge. First, we have to find a new home, but not just any home, it again will need certain features. It will need to be in a nicer neighborhood, in a good location close enough to my work and Sarah’s school. And of course we can’t wander too far from Temple Terrace!

The reason I want to wait until two years has passed is that I don’t want to pay capitol gains tax, which would cut into my available funds to get out of debt. I’ve managed to acquire a bit of debt over the years. I’ve got three credit cards, a few store cards (all with $0 balances), a student loan, a truck (auto) loan, and a few minor medical bills. Not to mention my mortgages, but they don’t really count. Once all this is paid off with the sale of our home, we will much more available monthly spendable income to use towards the mortgage of a more expensive house in a better area. This will also provide the funds for sending Sarah and Abby both to private school. It will also enable us to do the things I want so badly to do, such as take a family vacation somewhere nice. Perhaps take a few trips a year somewhere with the kids and do something fun.

Individually, I do fairly well in my profession. I’ve been in IT for over 8 years now, I make good enough money (though in my area there are higher paying jobs for which I qualify). The thing that sets us apart, is that Liz doesn’t work, not at all outside the home. This presents a challenge for me to maximize my income to provide for my family on my own without the income of a spousourselvese. Most families these days must have both parents working just to make it. I’ve been blessed that I have been able to make enough money to support my family on a single income. This is very difficult and we often find ourselves down to just a few dollars in the bank more than a few times each year. (in between pay periods). This presents its own challenges, for example, at work some of the guys like to go out and eat lunch sometimes several times a week. This is something I just cannot afford to do. Also we are limited in the activities we can provide for our kids, we haven’t been to Disney or Sea World or been on any weekend trips or done much of anything that requires more than $100 (and thats high). I really want to provide more experiences for my kids, I want to travel with them on family vacations, take them to interesting places and expose them to the world around them. There is a lot of beauty in the creation we are surrounded by, most of which I haven’t seen either. Hopefully one day, money won’t be so tight that we keep telling ourselves “we can’t afford to do that or go there”.

So lookout, come next March the Church Family might be moving to a neighborhood near you!

🙂
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Backups backups backups

After about 9 years of being in IT, I’ve learned how important backups are. I’ve experienced data loss due to not having a good backup several times. It really is worth it to have a good backup plan. Whether at work or at home. At home, I’ve got two 2003 servers, two XP desktops and I always make sure I at least make a ghost image of each one, with just the bare OS and again with all the software I need loaded. For example, my home PC, last night I was having troubles due to some beta software I installed (foolishly). I had planned to use my other XP desktop for software testing, but never seem to do that. The junk always goes on my primary PC, after all its faster and resist crashing longer than the slower desktop. So anyway, long story short, I decide to restore a ghost image of my Home PC with all the software loaded on it. Since I have a domain, my user accounts are still OK, I keep all my data on separate drives and network locations, so I won’t loose anything. But there always seems to be something you forget. Items like desktop downloads, favorites, RSS feeds, etc. now I couldn’t get windows explorer to work long enough to copy anything, so I got out my trusty Knoppix 3.9 bootable CD, inserted my thumb drive, and off I went, I was able to use Linux to get my data off my drive, before I reloaded the ghost image. I finally around 11pm, got all the stuff copied over and my ghost image restored. All I had to do was setup our desktop profiles again, like setting up outlook, and redirecting the my documents folder. Then I was done. So I’m all back up and running, thanks to having a good backup strategy. It only took 4 minutes to restore the ghost image, if I had to reinstall windows and all my apps manually, it would have taken hours! I use NTBACKUP to backup my two servers. The other desktop I don’t care about and will likely give away soon anyway.

Once I lost 2 years of data on a Novell Netware server I had at home. I decided I’d break a mirrored volume in Netware, forgetting I had stuff on it. Once it was broken, my data was gone. Boo hoo hoo. I was recently using a Dell PowerVault NAS 705N for my storage needs, but its a little slow, it was RAID5 which was good, but I decided to sell it, so now its listed on eBay. I hope I can sell it and get another 400GB hard drive. I have about 1TB of storage space in my PC right now. I need it too, I’ve got 200GB of normal data, like CD images, software, downloads, documents, etc. Then I have lost of multimedia, like music, movies, home video recordings and such that take up a lot of space. So I need to get one more drive and that should do it for now. My only concern now is that if any one of these drives fail, I loose all my data, and I don’t have a location on my network with storage large enough to store all that data if I were to back it up. I thought about getting a tape drive, but don’t want to spend the money (that I don’t have) on a tape backup solution which would likely not be large enough to hold all my stuff on a single tape anyway.
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